Tech Brand Strategy Fashion

Inside Bose’s first-ever fashion collaboration


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

February 16, 2024 | 7 min read

Paris Fashion Week might seem like an unlikely place for an audio company to launch its latest product, but for Bose’s marketing chief Jim Mollica, fashion perfectly aligns with his plans to root the brand in culture.

Male and female model wearing Kith x Bose headphones

Kith x Bose collaboration / Bose

Kith is the uber-cool lifestyle brand founded by Ronnie Fieg that counts Adidas, New Balance and Birkenstocks as its collaborators. It is also the brand that Bose selected as its first fashion partner, working together on a co-branded headphone release.

Launched during fashion week, the Kith Open Earbuds sold out within minutes and Bose chief marketing officer Jim Mollica declared the fashion week stunt “a big statement that this is the combining of two worlds of fashion and music.”

There are hundreds of brands that Bose could have forged its first foray into fashion, so why Kith? Mollica tells The Drum: “We started to talk to Ronnie about his passion for music and he is a massive music fan who has a very diverse genre of interests and likes within music, just like me. We just got to talking about how much that music impacts our lives.”

There were initial conversations about working on a project together, then Mollica showed Fieg Bose’s latest innovation, open-ear headphones. “He was blown away. He couldn’t find buds that fit him well and felt comfortable and loves having the environmental awareness.”

From those chats, Bose decided to turn over some design elements to Kith.

When The Drum first sat down with Mollica in July, he talked about the internal challenge of getting a brand that puts product features at the center of its communications to shift into cultural marketing. When relaying the fashion project internally, Mollica says some took it “incredibly well, but some with a quizzical bemused look.”

Fieg’s passion for music and how it shows up in his creative process and presentation of Kith’s clothing was what sold the project to the wider Bose company.

“When I talk about Bose and the power of sound to influence, to inspire and to create, you look for those areas where it’s so intertwined. When I explained it that way, even the people that are furthest removed from culture, the engineer that is just trying to create the most incredible sound that he can, it totally made sense to them.” The deal with Kith is a long-term one, with more projects in the pipeline, shares Mollica.

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Appointed Bose’s first chief marketer in 2021, Mollica has been working to change the business to act more like a publisher or programmer of content. According to Bose, in that time its brand relevancy has gained 8-10 points.

“We’re getting a more interested audience and becoming more widely considered and bought by women and by younger audiences. And we’re seeing that both in the retail commerce metrics and in all the brand metrics funnels, what you would see from awareness down into relevancy and intent.”

On his plans to push Bose into other cultural spaces, Mollica suggests that food, travel and sports are places he might partner next. But like with the Kith deal, he says a passion for music is non-negotiable.

Pointing to Bose’s campaign with English footballer Jack Grealish, he says: “There were footballers who we talked about partnering with but who didn’t have that same level of passion around music. It’s fine, they are great footballers, but it didn’t feel real to us.

“If we can sit down and spend hours that go by just like that because we’re talking about what we’re listening to at the time and sharing artists, those are the kinds of people we say ‘yes’ to.”

He also points to the actor Donald Glover, with whom Bose recorded a series of ‘day in the life’ style videos. “When we collaborate, it’s not with giant, nameless, faceless corporations. It’s with people; it is with Donald Glover and Ronnie Fieg from Kith. You will continue to see Bose progress down this path of doing interesting collaborations with people or brands that have people at the helm.”

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